The 1992 Constitution of Ghana provides the guiding principles for Ghana’s foreign policy.
Article 40 of the constitution clearly defines five key areas that would serve as the cornerstone underpinning our foreign relations with others, especially at bilateral and multilateral levels within the comity of nations.
During the young age of our nation in the early 1960’s, Ghana’s first president Dr Kwame Nkrumah dedicated his time to champion the ideals of a united Africa which led to the formation of the then apex continental grouping – Organization of Africa Unity (OAU) in 1963, which has morphed into the Africa Union.
Dr. Nkrumah also led Ghana’s membership into many international organizations and associations and laid the country’s foreign policy priorities, which to date, largely remains relevant to our foreign policy pursuits.
Except some few remodeling especially in 1982 and 2001 by the PNDC and NPP under president Kufuor, the basic policy position of non-alignment and pan-Africanism established by Osagyefuo Dr Kwame Nkrumah in the first republic earned the respect of all our leaders since independence, including the current president.
On assumption of the high office of president in January 2017, bold and confident as he is, many foreign policy analysts had forecasted that President Akuffo-Addo may reverse our foreign policy and drift the country into some fundamental foreign policy upheaval.
Luckily, that did not happen. The fundamentals of our foreign policy, as established since the First Republic, still remain.
Every President comes to office determined to set a new course in foreign policy.
This tends to be the case even when there is no change in the party or government.
President John Mahama’s tenure after the demise of President John Mills is illustrative.
Therefore, for a new government ushered into office, with a vast ideological difference with its predecessor, the need for a new foreign policy direction is as urgent as possible.
Having been a former foreign minister himself with enormous knowledge of the impact and existential consequences of poor foreign policy on both domestic and external progress of a country, the president swang into action, by shuttling to the capitals of Ghana’s neighbours within few days after being sworn into office.
Securing our borders and building neighborliness with Ghana’s neighbors on the North, East, and West sides became a vital foundation upon which he kick-started his foreign policy journey.
A number of smart foreign policy steps were taken by the president to reassert our nation’s position as the forerunner in Pan-African and global politics. These smart foreign policy steps doubtlessly repositioned Ghana to its past glory as a global actor, and not a spectator.
By June 3, 2017, eager to implement his programmes, he dispatched his first eight ambassadors and high commissioners with unequivocal deeds of assignment hinged on Ghana first principles, anchored on economic diplomacy and marketing of its investment potentials to attract investors into Ghana, from their various duty stations.
Promoting Ghana’s corporate image and bringing businesses home to increase jobs for the youth and spurring economic growth were the cardinal objective of deploying such men and women of valour as ambassadors and high commissioners.
In laying the main building blocks of Ghana’s external policy position, president Akuffo-Addo won the admiration of all UN General Assembly Members, except two nations.
The powerful speech of Ghana’s president at the UN General Assembly in September 2017, a strong Pan-African policy position, missing in the chamber for decades reminded many international commentators of the days of Ghana’s Dr Kwame Nkrumah at the UN Assembly.
Whiles the speech received widespread commendation across the world, it expectedly angered imperialist tabloids in some global capitals and most of them ran editorial invectives on our leader.
One high point embellishing our foreign policy achievements in conformity with Article 40 of the constitution is the president’s personal campaigns for Ambassador Kwesi Quartey for the position of deputy AU Commissioner.
The president won 44 votes representing 82% of the total votes from his 54 colleagues during the session in Addis Ababa.
This nationalistic leadership position should ultimately guide our nation’s leaders across all levels in their decision making to unite the country.
The Year of Return programme, offering opportunities and incentives to our Africa-American brothers and sisters and blacks across the Caribbean to reconnect to their ancestral roots is making Ghana regain her influence in Africa and in the black world as the torchbearer of freedom and liberation of the black man.
Another milestone in our foreign policy is the signing into effect of the Ghana-USA military Cooperation agreement. Many seem not to appreciate the looming security threats in the sub-region, and consider the signing of the agreement as incendiary.
But in reality, an overriding consideration in giving effect to this defence co-operation agreement is to fortify the security in the sub-region against any possible threats by insurgents and terrorist groups from North Africa.
Ignoring this pact could backfire in future with dire consequences on Ghana’s security, as well as security within the sub-region.
The signing boosted our country’s standing and position as a respecter of our international obligation to protect the peace and security of the sub-region.
In supporting global peace and security, the government, released US$13 million to the Ghana Armed Forces to retire all peacekeeping arrears, and work to strengthen our international peacekeeping commitments, which for many years earned Ghana admiration as a supporter of international peace.
The decision to extradite two Ghanaians namely Deborah Mensah and Maxwell Peter to the United States to face the law in cyber-related multi-million dollar fraud charges boosted Ghana’s ratings in the USA and across the world as a reliable country that supports the rule of law and international justice.
The bold support of our country for the marvellous idea of an integrated continental free market, which gave birth to Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement, AfCFTA, with the combined market value in excess of $35billion annually, and housed in Accra is prudence in economic diplomacy and increases the competitiveness of Ghana as the marketplace for Africa.
Good leaders the world over promote their nations best when they get the least opportunity to magnify their countries positively within the global community.
In this specific scenario, President Akuffo-Addo’s caution statement on this unpredictable COVID 19 virus gained global recognition
“We know how to bring the economy back, but we do not know how to bring people’s lives back. Please stay at home” He said.
This simple but deep caution statement was used by some WHO leaders and received worldwide acceptance as a signature statement for the fight against COVID 19.
Ghana’s wisdom was once again brought to bear on international public and humanitarian service.
These admirable steps have increased Ghana’s influence globally in the areas of leadership, trade, investment and peace-building and triggered enormous direct foreign investment flow into the domestic economy and increased jobs for our youth to improve standard of living for the Ghanaian citizenry.
Our nation’s current Chairmanship of ECOWAS and the tactical diplomacy of president Akuffo-Addo culminated in the surrender of Mali’s coup leaders to handover to a civilian prime minister.
As he treads towards the end of his first term, President Akuffo-Addo’s bold decisions and smart foreign policy decisions are admirable and position Ghana as a great country we all should be proud of.
The Black Star of Africa is shining again!
The writer is a development management specialist and executive chairman of Northern Development and Democratic Institute (NDDI), in Tamale. He also sits on the Board of four private corporate bodies and serves as the external relations advisor to the King & Overlord of Dagbon, Ya-Na Abukari II.